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Press Release

Mint Hill, N.C. Man Is Charged With Wire Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft For Stealing More Than $800,000 From An Elderly Victim

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte indicted Michael Filipidis, 24, of Mint Hill, N.C., on wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, for stealing more than $800,000 from an elderly victim, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  The criminal indictment was unsealed in federal court today, following Filipidis’s initial appearance.

Reginald A. DeMatteis, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office joined U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to allegations contained in the indictment, beginning in or about December 2018, Filipidis engaged in a scheme to defraud an elderly individual, by falsely representing to the victim that Filipidis was a financial advisor with a financial institution, and that he could manage and invest the victim’s monies.  Filipidis was employed by the financial institution, but worked at a call center.  The indictment alleges that, based on Filipidis’s fraudulent claims, the victim provided Filipidis with access to the victim’s financial accounts, and authorized Filipidis to transfer funds to new brokerage accounts.  Filipidis then fraudulently diverted funds from the victim’s new brokerage accounts, as well as from the victim’s life insurance annuities and the victim’s other bank accounts, to bank accounts under Filipdis’s control.  Filipidis then used and attempted to use the victim’s funds for Filipidis’s personal benefit. 

According to allegations in the indictment, in order to carry out the scheme, when Filipidis opened the new brokerage accounts he used his own phone number and email address for the contact information.  He also named himself the beneficiary of one of the new brokerage accounts without the knowledge and consent of the victim. Further, Filipidis fraudulently changed the mailing address, email address, and phone number associated with the victim’s bank accounts at the financial institution to Filipidis’s personal information, so the victim stopped receiving phone calls, correspondence, and statements for his bank accounts.

The indictment alleges that between December 2018 and February 2019, Filipidis diverted more than $800,000 of the victim’s funds, intended for Filipdis’s own benefit.

“This is a case of financial exploitation perpetrated by someone who posed as a trusted financial expert.  Criminals who target seniors are shameful opportunists who prey upon the vulnerable. My office will help investigate, punish and deter crimes against our seniors, and teach financial predators the hard lessons they deserve,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.

“These types of cases often result in a devastating financial loss to victims,” said Special Agent in Charge DeMatteis.  “This is particularly true for seniors who are at risk of losing the financial security that they have worked a lifetime to build.  The U.S. Secret Service will work tirelessly to protect our seniors from those who wish to exploit them.”  

Filipidis made his initial appearance in federal court this morning, before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory minimum term of two years in prison, to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed. 

The details contained in this indictment are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the U.S. Secret Service’s Charlotte Field Office for leading the investigation. 

Assistant United States Attorney Caryn Finley, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.

In March 2019, Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced the Office’s Elder Justice Initiative, which aims to combat elder financial exploitation by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors; educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid becoming victims of financial fraud; and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners. For more information please visit: https://edit.justice.gov/usao-wdnc/elder-justice-initiative.

Updated September 3, 2019

Topics
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud